Modern Design

For The Birds.

Now that I have a yard again, and I can enjoy things like song birds on my back porch I’ve become interested in birdhouses and feeders. Like before when I owned the Modular 4 house on Lloyd, I have begun searching for something that doesn’t look like the standard stuff you see at Home Depot or Lowes. Unfortunately most feeders and houses look like the same stuff that has been around for decades. Fortunately though, Dutch designer Vincent Bos has created a new birdhouse has a wonderful modern look to it.

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The collection is an environmentally conscious series constructed of oak, porcelain, and powder coated steel. They are hand made and designed specifically for outdoor use. “Wall Elements” was designed with durability and versatility in mind. It is a modular system that can be assembled to work in any garden space. The mount for each house can be attached to a wall, fence post or any vertical surface.

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I love the clean look, the playful nature and the use of environmentally friendly materials. I will say this, they aren’t cheap. The average price is about $250.00 dollars. If you want a Wall Elements Birdhouse you can pick one up – here. I love the look but I think I am going to continue to search for something just as stylish and more on budget.

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Send Massimo Vignelli a Letter.

Massimo Vignelli, the legendary Italian graphic designer, is very ill and spending his last days at home with his family. Over the last week a number of sites have been asking for fans, designers, and everyone to send Vignelli a card or a hand written letter. You may not know who he is, if you don’t work in the field of design. You do however know who he is, because his work is everywhere. Vignelli has had a massive impact on the field of visual design since he arrived in the United States in the 1960’s, and his work will have an impact for decades to come. Luca Vignelli put out the call to the internet last Friday on The Creative Review, asking that anyone for whom Vignelli was an influence or an inspiration to write him a letter. Yes a real physical snail mail letter. I dropped mine in the post last Saturday. Below are a couple of videos of Vignelli talking about his work. The first was produced by Mohawk Paper about a year ago. The second, if you have time to watch it, is from VCU and is 23 minutes of Vignelli talking about design, theory, practice and principal. Both are worth watching. Both show why Vignelli is a true master of design.

You can send him a note at the following address.

Massimo Vignelli
130 East 67 Street
New York, New York 10021

 

 

Punk Goes Swiss Modern.

There is something so completely humorous and ironic about designer Mike Joyce’s personal project “swissted“. Punk gig posters look nothing like the highly stylized images Joyce has created using a Swiss Modern / International Style approach. While his posters are beautifully designed they are the antithesis of punk band gig posters from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The two movements have nothing to do with each other stylistically, and the cool modern design look flies in the face of all things punk rock.

Each poster design is set in lowercase berthold akzidenz-grotesk medium (no it’s not helvetica), and each poster represents a show that actually happened (there are a boat load of them too.) Frankly I think these posters are great. Wonderful design, typography, and color pallets. What I’d really like to see is a comparison between these and the original flyers they are based on. I’m sure

swissted is now available as a book from quirk books. You can get it here.

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That Wine is STACT.

Wine racks are one of those things that haven’t really changed much over the decades. Most racks consist of boxes stacked together at 45 or 90 degree angles big enough to hold a bottle on it’s side. So when I saw STACT on Kick starter this morning I have to say I was just a wee bit happy.

STACT designed by Eric Pfeiffer is a modular wine storage system that is made from aircraft-grade anodized aluminum and premium wood veneers. The system is modular, and scalable to grow with your ever expanding collection of fine French Bordeaux’s.

Each STACT panel comes with pre-installed anchors for a secure mount to the wall via the included F-brackets. The system allows you to mix and match six finishes which include walnut, white oak, zebrano, piano black, pure white, and electric orange.

Right now STACT is going into production with delivery scheduled for November. For more information go to the STACT Kickstarter Page.

“With a modern aesthetic in mind, STACT is crafted from high quality aircraft-grade aluminum and premium wood veneers, with a high-end appeal previously found only in modern wine cellars, avant-garde restaurants, and wine bars. The patent-pending versatile and space efficient modular design is infinitely expandable and customizable, a cinch to assemble, and seamlessly integrates into any space or décor.”

 

Design Friday, A Look Back to the Future From 1999

Newson's 1999 concept car for Ford. The 021C

For design Friday, I wanted to take a step back. Ten years to be exact, and look at Marc Newson’s design for the Ford C21 concept car. Earlier this week my friend and fellow designer Jeff Chenault, sent me a link about this car, and I have to say I had totally forgotten about it. But in today’s climate, the automobile would probably have some success for Ford.

Back in 1999, then ford’s head of design, J.Mays decided to get a designer from outside of Ford to work on a concept car. His choice was Marc Newson who had been designing furniture and products but never worked on automotive design before.

Here is a little background on how the C21 came to be born. Ford’s Global Design and Chief Creative Officer, J. Mays, decided to hire a designer from outside the automotive field in order to break free from conventional automotive design thinking. His choice was Marc Newson, an emerging prolific industrial designer who had worked in aircraft design, product design, furniture design, jewelry, and clothing. J. Mays brief was simple. I want you to create a simple and affordable urban vehicle, which would be eco-friendly.

Newson got to work, creating a vehicle that appears both modern and retro in styling. The cabin has an open feel with its vertical slim pillars and large surrounding glass. The floor is completely flat that gently curves to meet the  vertical surfaces. Newson worked with Italian furniture manufacturer B+B Italia to produce the seats.  The entire dash panel can be moved vertically (along with the steering wheel) to adjust for different drivers. The interior is finished in a combination of orange PMS 021C, Newson’s favorite color, silver and white. Every element, from the specially woven carpet to the analogue instruments made by the Ikepod Watch Company, were designed by Newson.

The car featured unique thinking for the automotive world. The doors open out from opposing hinges, (suicide doors) for easy entrance and egress. The front seats swivel to help with entering and exiting the vehicle. The trunk opens like a dresser drawer pulling out from under the lid. Once again designed to create easier access to interior spaces.

The carbon fiber exterior features simple shapes and clean lines with no superflous decoration at all. The door handles are simple aluminum buttons surrounded by a translucent plastic ring which is illuminated when the remote central locking is activated.

The car is like a glasshouse, open light and airy with thin pillars flowing  around the clam-shell door frames to ensure the widest possible apertures. The front and rear views of the Ford 021C are dominated by single light lenses and a wrap around bumper.

Designed to specifically appeal to a consumer base of 21 and younger drivers, the car played to the fact that these consumers are highly brand literate, extremely technologically aware, and want quality products which express their individuality.

“The Ford 021C is an honest, simple, engaging car, and these are values which resonate with this important group of emerging automotive consumers,” said Ford’s Vice-President of Design, J Mays.

Mays went on to say, “The project has helped change the way Ford designs new vehicles. As car designers we tend to approach everything from an automotive perspective. The Ford 021C treats the car as a cultural icon. We have created a distinct point of view with this car and if you don’t get it, don’t worry – you’re probably not meant to.”

This kind of thinking was a radical departure for an industry that while shaping many aspects of the design world, has since the 1970’s produced more and more product that is for lack of a better word generic. All you have to do is look at the majority of cars on the road today. Many are slight variations of a competitors product, with conservative styling choices. The design philosophy behind the 021C set a foundation for new generation of Ford vehicles and was designed to appeal to a new generation of consumers in the 21st century.

“Ask children to draw a car and they’ll draw something like this, so in many ways the 021C is a familiar and comfortable object,” Newson said. “But it doesn’t use many typical automotive design cues, and while it does incorporate some interesting technology, it’s not technology used simply for the sake of it.”